His name is Spinel and he comes straight from the world of nanotechnology research. Scientists from the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have succeeded in developing this new material, which is transparent and stronger than steel.
The Doctor Jas Sangheraproject leader at the US Naval Research Laboratory, says that it is "made from a mineral, magnesium aluminate. The advantage is that it is much stronger and more resistant than glass. It offers better protection in a hostile environment - so it can withstand erosion from sand and rain, for example. »
The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has developed a suite of processes to create this material, Spinnel, a transparent alumnium (MgAl2O4) ceramic material with superior qualities to glass - sapphire - and other materials traditionally used for applications such as high-energy lasers and light armor. The mineral is first powdered and then heated at very high temperatures so that it becomes completely transparent, before being placed in a press to give it the right shape. According to the researchers, Spinel is said to be shock-resistant, unlike glass: when alumina is added to the mixture during the glass manufacturing process, crystals of silicon dioxide develop on the surface of the glass, negating the transparency property of the glass.
These hot presses are used to insert spinell powder into transparent solid materials to create a process that includes a spray coating that ensures full density and transparency. In addition, the process has been designed to eliminate all risks of undesirable chemical reactions. The transparent spinel provides excellent optical transmission in the visible and mid-infrared wavelength range.
This new process, using gaseous oxygen and a laser spatula, makes it possible to produce a transparent and very solid alumina reinforced glass.
This is probably the solution for our smartphone screens, helmet visors, watches, photo lenses or windows of the future! Not to mention the various applications that the army has already interviewed for the manufacture of drones, ultra-light armored windshields, ...
The US Naval Research Laboratory team
Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/Jamie Hartman)
"In 1986, Dr. Nichols, director of Plexicorp in San Francisco, acquired the formula for transparent aluminium from a mysterious engineer in Edinburgh, by the name of "Professor Scott". In exchange for this formula, Dr. Nichols supplied enough plexiglass to "Professor Scott" to build a giant pool on board the HMS Bounty. » Here is a summary of an episode of the saga " Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ". And that according to this script from Star Trek IV, transparent aluminium was invented in the 2130s... Well, for once, reality has won over science fiction!